With church pastors and leaders in general operating differently these days, the Presbytery of Donegal‘s leadership is teaming up to help give their pastors a break from the relentless march of Sunday morning sermons following Holy Week. Executive Presbyter Erin Cox-Holmes and Stated Clerk Michael Wilson are preparing sermons that can be used by churches on the two Sundays after Easter. This will allow pastors to have a little more time to themselves and recharge in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
“While it could be that life will soon return to some semblance of normal, it also could be until summer or beyond,” Erin wrote. “The timing is not in our hands. Now that most of us have developed new basic operations, we call upon our congregations to observe a time for an Easter Season Sabbath. We suggest that you set aside anywhere from 3-5 days to hit the ‘pause’ button and let everyone take a breath. If it isn’t an emergency, let it wait and take some space to connect with loved ones, nature and the practices that are most life-giving.”
“We’ve noticed that our pastors are working really hard and learning a lot about doing distance worship, getting things online and caring for people at a distance,” Michael added, “all while trying to keep the mission of the church going, including some really innovative ideas about how to support hunger-insecure people and/or people and families who find themselves without a regular place to live. Several pastors had vacations or study leave planned early in Lent or right after Easter. Many of them have canceled those plans to care for their congregations during this pandemic. Erin and I have been asking ourselves how we can support them, and Erin came up with this idea.
“I will record a sermon for April 19. Erin will record a sermon for April 26. We will use a lectionary text, to support those pastors who are lectionary-based preachers. We’ll post the sermon on Vimeo on Thursday. Pastors will be able to shape a worship service around it and then use it for the sermon during a worship service that they record/edit. They can also post the video and point to it as worship for the day. We’re going to aim for 8-12 minute sermons. We’ll get feedback afterwards and see if it is something that we offer an a periodic basis (some of this will depend on how long this crisis and the shelter-in-place order lasts).
“As we’ve watched our pastors learn about preaching, cameras and the communication differences when there is a congregation physically present or absent, we think this is a way to support them, give them a break and join them in their learning.”
The sermons will be available on the Presbytery of Donegal website by the preceding Thursday, along with the Vimeo link to embed on a congregation’s website or to edit in to the congregation’s recorded or livestream worship.
- April 19: Second Sunday of Easter (Preacher: Michael Wilson, Text: I Peter 1: 3-9)
- April 26: Third Sunday of Easter (Preacher: Erin Cox-Holmes, Text: Luke 24:13-35)